The controversy about statements made last week about African bishops and their contributions to the Synod on the Family by the Roman Curial prelate Cardinal Walter Kasper continues. Most recently BILD-Zeitung [a German tabloid newspaper] took up the topic last Friday and headlined its story: “Racism Blooper?” BILD also quoted a German bishop who opined, “Insulting, lying and falsely accusing is not prescribed by the Catechism.” There was criticism about Cardinal Kasper’s remarks over the weekend, as Cardinal Raymond Burke called the remarks “profoundly sad and scandalous” in an interview with CWR.
Cardinal Kasper has now offered a qualified apology for his statements and expressed his esteem for the Church in Africa. Kasper had previously denied he’d made the remarks attributed to him by journalist Edward Pentin, then stated that he had been recorded speaking to journalists without his knowledge. Kasper himself has now confirmed to Kath.net that he had had a conversation with three journalists. In Kasper’s opinion, though, it was not an interview; there has to be an agreement for an interview as such. Then the Cardinal made it clear:
“If one of my remarks about Africans was perceived as demeaning or insulting, then I am honestly sorry. That was and is not my intention, and not my view at all. No one will deny that Africa’s culture is different from Europe’s in many respects. But I have been in Africa too often not to esteem African culture highly.” [Translated for CWR by Michael J. Miller]
Cardinal Kasper was quoted by Pentin as describing the problems of the African Church as “impossible” for the synod to solve, while saying that the African bishops “should not tell us too much what we have to do.” The publication of Kasper’s comments to Pentin, his disavowal of them, and the subsequent release of the full audio of the interview were the source of much controversy late last week as the bishops concluded the two-week Synod on the Family. Some speculated that the appointment of Cardinal Wilfrid Napier of South Africa to the committee responsible for drafting the synod’s final document was a response to Kasper’s remarks.
Another comment made by Cardinal Kasper in speaking with Kath.net is quite breathtaking: he talked again about a “deliberate dirty trick” to denounce him. “The fact that Catholic media (and unfortunately a cardinal in person) should participate in it, in order to tear down another position morally, is shameful,” Kasper opined. When Kath.net asked as a follow-up question who that cardinal was, Kasper unfortunately gave no answer. The retired Curial Cardinal announced, however, that “other journalists” are going to take action against such “undignified machinations”.
[Michael J. Miller contributed to this report.]